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The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has called for concerted action to ensure supplies of pharmaceutical products are guaranteed across Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Following the decision by the House of Commons to reject the deal agreed between the government and the EU, the body has expressed concern that there may be severe disruption to supplies after Britain leaves the 28-country bloc at the end of March.
EFPIA said: "With the prospect of the UK leaving the EU in a disorderly manner on March 30, 2019, without a deal, there are very real, tangible and immediate threats to patient safety and public health in both the UK and across Europe.”
Among the measures the pharmaceutical industry hopes can be agreed are that drug testing in the UK will still be regarded as valid in EU countries, at least until new facilities are up and running. Another concern is that flights should not be grounded, as it may be important to transport drugs by air to avoid potential logjams at sea ports.
Mike Thompson, the chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said pharmaceutical companies are focused on maintaining supplies "whatever the Brexit outcome", including work to stockpile drugs and duplicate manufacturing processes.
However, he noted, while the industry is still working with the government on 'no-deal' planning, he said such a scenario would "prove to be extremely challenging" and expressed the desire for parliament to break the "stalemate" at Westminster so it could "reassure patients that medicines will not be disrupted come March 2019".
With the government warning that there could be six months of disruption at ports in the event of a no-deal scenario, the concerns are stark.
Since the vote to reject the withdrawal agreement, prime minister Theresa May has begun talks with other party leaders in an attempt to find a consensus to avoid a no-deal scenario. However, EU leaders have said there will be no renegotiation of the deal.
Written by James Puckle
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